Eczema is a chronic inflammatory condition of the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. The most affected areas in adults involve the creases of the skin (insides of the elbows, backs of the knees, wrists, ankles, and neck) as well as the hands and sometimes, the face. It is not contagious. Dr. Gallacher provides treatment for eczema, customizing medical plans for symptom relief and improvement of skin appearance.
Forms Of Eczema
There are several forms of eczema. The most common are:
- Atopic dermatitis: Often inherited, this is the most common form of eczema. Symptoms include dry, red, itchy skin that may become swollen or thickened.
- Contact dermatitis: Following contact with specific irritants or allergens, the skin breaks out into itchy, red, crusty, or scaly patches.
- Nummular eczema: Numerous round plaques associated with dry skin occur on the outer surface of the hands, arms, and legs.
- Seborrheic eczema: Yellowish-brown, greasy, scaly patches appear on the eyebrows, nose, chest, and scalp.
What Causes it?
The underlying cause is believed to be a genetic dysfunction in the proteins that make up the epidermis. Any number of triggers can irritate the skin, causing the well-known symptoms. The most common triggers include:
- Soaps, detergents, shampoos, cleaners
- Certain foods, especially nuts, eggs, and dairy products
- Hot temperatures, excessive perspiration
- Pet hair, dust mites, molds
- Stress and anxiety
- Hormonal changes (especially in women, during pregnancy or at certain points in the menstrual cycle)
Can Eczema Be Cured?
In most cases, it cannot be completely cured. There are, however, measures that you can take to reduce its symptoms and severity.
- Avoid known allergens
- Wear gloves, use long-handled brushes for cleaning the house, doing dishes, etc.
- Wear cotton and other soft fabrics; try to avoid scratchy fibers
- Use recommended skin moisturizers (water-free creams and ointments)
- Use a humidifier in dry or cold weather
What Treatments Are Available For Eczema?
Dr. Gallacher may prescribe a topical corticosteroid ointment or oral anti-inflammatory medications that can provide relief and improve the appearance of eczema. In some cases, antihistamines or antibiotics may be necessary.
Phototherapy may be helpful in treating mild to moderate eczema. This involves the use of an ultraviolet A light (UVA) or B light (UVB) on the affected area. Phototherapy helps to reduce itch, calm inflammation, increase bacteria-fighting systems in the skin, and increase vitamin D production. Most patients will initially require 2 – 3 treatments per week for 1 – 2 months. Once the eczema is controlled, infrequent maintenance treatments may be enough to maintain clear skin.